What Are the Different Printing Methods Available?

If you have a print job on the horizon, there are many different printing methods to choose from.

Each printing method is suited to a different need, meaning that your desired finish will influence your chosen printing option.

So what are the different types of printing methods and how do they vary from each other?

In this blog post, we’ll explore seven of the most well-known and commonly used types.

Offset Lithography

  • Ideal for rough-surfaced media, e.g. wood, canvas and cloth
  • Use for books, paper, stationery and more

Also known as offset printing or litho, offset lithography is a popular method of mass-production printing. 

This method is performed using aluminium printing plates, each holding an image of the content to be printed.

These plates are then transferred (offset) onto rollers or rubber blankets before going onto the print media. Your final product will depend on which type of paper you opt for. 

The flexible material of the rollers or rubber blankets means offset lithography can be used on any media with rough surfaces, opening up your options to various paper types.

Offset lithography produces high-quality images and can be used for small or large-volume print jobs.

It’s a versatile printing method that delivers a crisp finish on smooth paper or a rough canvas.


  • Great for newsletters, posters, stationery and leaflets
  • Use for magazines, catalogues, brochures and prospectuses

LED UV printing is a method that's becoming increasingly popular among businesses due to its extremely high-quality prints and quick turnaround times.

It's a form of digital printing that uses ultraviolet (UV) lights to dry the ink as it's being printed. 

The drying process, known as UV curing, sets it apart from other methods as it’s instantaneous and prevents ink from sinking into the materials. This reduces your wait times and makes colours much sharper and clearer.

LED UV printing is eco-friendly as it uses less power than traditional print machines.

This, along with its versatility, makes it a great option for several reasons. LED UV can turn an ordinary product into a luxury, high-quality finish without impacting turnaround times.


  • Use for packaging and labels
  • Great for anything with continuous patterns e.g. wallpaper and gift wrap 

Flexographic printing is the modern version of letterpress and is commonly used for printing on uneven surfaces.

This printing method uses quick-drying products like semi-liquid inks and can be used for high-volume jobs.

The process involves wrapping flexible photopolymer printing plates around rotating cylinders on a web press.

These inked plates have a slightly raised image of your content and are rotated at high speeds to transfer the image onto the print media

Want to become an expert on printing terms? Or seen a phrase in this blog post that you’re unsure about? Check out our Glossary of 100 Printing Terms by clicking here.

Flexography is a popular choice due to its high press speeds, suitability for long runs and ability to print on various media, including plastic, cellophane and metallic film.

Digital Printing

  • Use for posters and signage
  • Great for labels, newsletters, menus and letters

Digital printing is a modern method that spans various techniques, including inkjet and laser.

In digital printing, images are sent directly to the printer using digital files, such as PDFs. Doing so removes the need for a printing plate, often saving time and money — unless you’re printing in high volumes.

This method is perfect when you need a quick turnaround, as it lets businesses print on demand. It’s also perfect for smaller jobs, as requests can be made for as little as one print.

When done right, digital printing can be cost-effective and still produce high-quality results.


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Colour swatches

Display Print

  • Great for large signage e.g. billboards, posters, vinyl banners
  • Use for wallpaper, murals, floor graphics and laminating

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Display print, otherwise known as large format printing, exists to produce maximum print roll width. It’s perfect for traditional advertising and businesses looking to make an impact on anyone who sees their ads.

This printing method gives you a much bigger area to work with compared to other options like digital printing.

Rather than printing onto individual sheets like other methods, large format printing uses rolls of prints fed together to make one large sheet.

This option is perfect for building wraps, billboards, banners and murals.

Screen Printing

  • Best for printing logos and graphics onto clothes
  • Use for novelty items, display items and toy figurines

Screen printing is a method where fine material or mesh is used to transfer an image onto another material.

The mesh is stretched out to create a screen and ink is pressed against it to print the image. Screen printing can be used to print graphics onto clothes and other pieces of fabric, as well as paper and metal.

Due to longer set-up times, screen printing is best used for printing repeat items in bulk. For smaller orders, costs can be much higher compared to other methods.

3D Printing

  • Great for promotion and marketing freebies
  • Novelty items
  • Display items
  • Toy figurines

3D printer

Since the 1980s, 3D printing has allowed us to print three-dimensional objects. Although used for more niche projects, these printers can be used to make a big impact on your audience.

Objects can be printed using model data from 3D models or electronic sources such as an Additive Manufacturing File (AMF). Additive compound mixtures are then fused to produce a 3D object.

Over time, 3D printers have continually become more sophisticated, and items can now even be printed with interior moving parts.

After details have been worked out on a computer program like CAD, tiny layers are printed on top of one another using a special plastic substance.

Discover More About Printing Techniques

With all the different printing methods available, you have options. Throughout this blog post, we’ve explored seven best methods to achieve high-quality print products for your business.

If you’re looking for more clarity on the topic and want to be sure you’re choosing the right option for your desired final product, read our guide on printing techniques.

We've compiled tips, advice and an in-depth comparison to help you choose the printing method that's best for you to keep your product in your customers' hands for longer. Grab your copy below. 

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Explore the
Best of Green
Printing Tips

You’re probably well aware of the growing importance and demand of eco-friendly products.

Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.